General Memory: Formation and Contents

The concept of a general memory is rarely mentioned in the brain science literature. Nonetheless, I argue it is a central component of both the mind (mental states and processses) and the brain. If so, the mind’s contents and how they are formed becomes an important topic.

Most people have an intuitive understand of what a general memory is which, I argue, is essentially correct. A general memory is a range of (similar) past experience. General memories begin with an initial unique experience. Subsequently, this memory might be activated by new matching experience. Similar experiences shape this memory, experience by experience. For example, the memory “chocolate taste” is formed over time by an initial, and subsequent, set of (chocolate) taste experiences. The memory “eating A piece of chocolate” is formed from a person’s set of “I ate THAT piece of chocolate” experiences. With both memories, each chocolate-eating experiences shapes the memory toward that particular experience.

A general memory is built both from experience and its episodic memory. Mind and brain continually copy experience to episodic memory. One’s experience during the last 5 seconds can be recalled at any time. At the very least the gist can be remembered. For example, one might remember that for the past 5 seconds, “I was sitting at my desk, looking out the window toward the woods, feeling calm, deep in thought.” This memory could then work to shape the involved memories, such as “I,” “things I do and feel,” and “things I do at my desk.”

The contents of episodic memory = that of experience. Or at the very least, the INFORMATION of experience becomes that of memory. The memory “(I) catch a baseball” is built from past baseball-catching experiences + the episodic memory of each.

I would also argue any set of similar experiences — if common and powerful enough — will form a general memory. Perceiving a car speeding by for the first time initiates the formation of a “that car speeding by” memory. This memory is formed initially by a (moment by moment) experience. Seeing many cars do this causes a more general “a car speeding by” memory to form. The same goes for its sub-memories: “car shape,” “car motor sound,” “where cars are seen,” “how I feel about cars,” etc.

Why might it be useful to understand general memory? Because, according to the MA (Memory Activation) Method, 95% of the mind/brain system runs on it. General memory I argue is the critical missing piece in understanding mind, ad corresponding brain. Not from a personal growth perspective, but more from a mechanical and engineering perspective.

The concept of a general memory as described above is common knowledge. The only group of people who may initially struggle with or resist this concept, ironically, are brain scientists. Not because they aren’t smart, talented, hard-working, highly-skilled professionals doing valuable work. But because they are laboring under the wrong cognitive neuroscience paradigm. The brain’s fundamental mechanism, I argue, is general memory activation — not a “processing” or “computing” of one’s (external & internal) world. This is why seeing general memory content for what it really is — as groups of similar human experience — could significantly enhance applied neuroscience and the brain sciences generally.

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